Page images
PDF
EPUB

For all her maidens much did fear,
If Oberon had chanced to hear,
That Mab bis queen should have been there,

He would not have abode it.

She mounts her chariot with a trice,
Nor would she stay for no advice,
Until her maids, that were so nice,

To wait on her were fitted,
But ran herself away alone;
Which when they heard, there was not one
But hasted after to be gone,

As she had been diswitted.

Hop, and Mop, and Drap so clear,
Pip, and Trip, and Skip, that were
To Mab their sovereign dear,

Her special maids of honour;
Fib, and Tib, and Pinck, and Pin,
Tick, and Quick, and Jill, and Jin,
Tit, and Nit, and Wap, and Win,

The train that wait upon her.

Upon a grasshopper they got,
And what with amble and with trot,
For hedge nor ditch they spared not,

But after her they hie them.
A cobweb over them they throw,
To shield the wind if it should blow,
Themselves they wisely could bestow,

Lest any should espy them.

But let us leave Queen Mab a while,
Through many a gate, o'er many a stile,
That now had gotten by this wile,

Her dear Pigwiggen kissing ;
And tell how Oberon doth fare,
Who grew as mad as any hare,
When he had sought each place with care,

And found his queen was missing.

I

The frantic Oberon commits a thousand extravagances,

and in his jealous rage runs a tilt at all he meets, like any mad Paladin, till he encounters Puck, to whom he ex. plains the cause of his fury :

Dear Puck," quoth he,“ my wife is gone;
As e'er thou lov'st King Oberon,
Let every thing but this alone,

With vengeance and pursue her:
Bring her to me, alive or dead,
Or that vile thief Pigwiggen's head :
That villain hath defiled my bed,

He to this folly drew her."

Quoth Puck, “ My liege, I'll never lin,
But I will thorough thick and thin,
Until at length I bring her in,

My dearest lord, ne'er doubt it.”
Thorough brake, thorough brier,
Thorough muck, thorough mire,
Thorough water, thorough fire,

And thus goes Puck about it.

This thing Nymphidia overheard,
That on this mad king had a guard,
Not doubting of a great reward,

For first this business broaching:
And through the air away doth go
Swift as an arrow from the bow,
To let her sovereign Mab to know

What peril was approaching.

The queen, bound with love's powerful charm,
Sate with Pigwiggen arm in arm;
Her merry maids, that thought no harm,

About the room were skipping :
A humble-bee, their minstrel, play'd
Upon his hautbois, ev'ry maid
Fit for this revel was array'd,

The hornpipe neatly tripping.

In comes Nymphidia, and doth cry, “My sovereign, for your safety fly, For there is danger but too nigh,

I posted to forewarn you : The king hath sent Hobgoblin out, To seek you all the fields about, And of your safety you may doubt,

If he but once discern you.'

When, like an uproar in a town,
Before them every thing went down ;
Some tore a ruff, and some a gown,

'Gainst one another justling :
They flew about like chaff i'th' wind;
For haste some left their masks behind,
Some could not stay their gloves to find;

There never was such bustling.

Forth ran they by a secret way,
Into a brake that near them lay,
Yet much they doubted there to stay,

Lest Hob should hap to find them ;
He had a sharp and piercing sight,
All one to him the day and night,
And therefore were resolved by flight

To leave this place behind them.

At length one chanced to find a nut,
In th' end of which a hole was cut,
Which lay upon a hazel root,

There scatter'd by a squirrel,
Which out the kernel gotten had :
When quoth this Fay, “ Dear queen, be glad,
Let Oberon be ne'er so mad,

I'll set you safe from peril.

“Come all into this nut, (quoth she), Come closely in, be ruled by me, Each one may here a chuser be,

For room ye need not wrestle,

Nor need ye be together heapt.”
So one by one therein they crept,
• And, lying down, they soundly slept,

And safe as in a castle.

Puck is outwitted by Nymphidia the waiting-maid, and

Oberon challenged by Pigwiggen the knight of Mab. Immense preparations are made for this solemn appeal to arms. The arming of the combatants, the lists, the battle, are all described with the dignity becoming so mighty an occasion. Like other knights, the rivals having shattered their spears, throw them away, and fight with swords ; when Proserpine is prevailed on, by the prayers and tears of Queen Mab, to interfere. She restores peace, and gives the parties a draught of Lethe, which ends all animosity; and mirth and harmony are restored to the FAIRY COURT.

BALLAD OF DOWSABEL.

Far in the country of Arden
There won'd a knight, hight Cassamen,

As bold as Isenbras :
Fell was he and eager bent,
In battle and in tournament,

As was the good Sir Topas.
He had, as antique stories tell,
A daughter cleped Dowsabel,

A maiden fair and free.
And for she was her father's heir,
Full well she was ycond the leir

Of mickle courtesy.

The silk well couth she twist and twine,
And make the fine march-pain,

And with the needle work:
And she couth help the priest to say
His mattins on a holy-day,

And sing a psalm in kirk.
She wore a frock of frolic green,
Might well become a maiden queen,

Which seemly was to see ;
A hood to that so neat and fine,
In colour like the columbine,

Iwrought full featously.
Her features all as fresh above
As is the grass that grows by Dove,

And lythe as lass of Kent.
Her skin as soft as Lemster wool,
As white as snow on Peakish Hull,

Or swan that swims in Trent.
This maiden, in a morn betime,
Went forth when May was in the prime

To get sweet sety wall,
The honeysuckle, the harlock,
The lily, and the lady-smock,

To deck her summer hall.
Thus, as she wander'd here, and there,
And picked off the bloomy brier,

She chanced to espy
A shepherd sitting on a bank,
Like chanticleer he crowed crank,

And piped full merrily.
He learn'd his sheep, as he him list,
When he would whistle in his fist,

To feed about him round,

« PreviousContinue »